Take Out Inflammation With the Clean 15

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Inflammation is a normal function of the body. The purpose of the inflammatory response is to protect the body from harmful stimuli such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxic particles, damaged cells or irritants. The mediators of inflammation include the immune cells, certain inflammatory mediators and blood vessels.

The process of inflammation is usually under tight control, but when it becomes chronic it can lead to various diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, lupus, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.

Acute vs Chronic Inflammation

Acute inflammation is the process that we have all seen before such as a cut on the arm or jamming a toe. The cardinal signs of inflammation include heat, redness, swelling and pain. Any injury will mount this response under normal circumstances. It is the initial response that involves a group of early or acute cells whose role it is to eliminate the cause of the cell injury and rid the body of damaged tissue and promote repair. Once repaired, a scar forms and is later remodeled to flatten out the scar and look more like the surrounding tissue. Then the system rests.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, involves a different set of cells and is characterized by the continuous and simultaneous breakdown and healing of the tissue. Because the process is continuous, there is constant destruction of tissue that can cause issues in various parts of the body so that if it occurs in the brain, it may lead to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. In the pancreas, it may lead to pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer, for instance.

If this chronic inflammation affects adipose cells it can lead to obesity. Interestingly, it has been discovered that nearly every disease has been discovered to be caused by this chronic inflammatory process.

The Culprits Behind Inflammation

There may be a genetic component that loads the gun, but our lifestyle choices pull the trigger. The question is, what is the most effective in-home way of interrupting the process of chronic inflammation? The answer is… An Anti-inflammatory Diet.

There are certain culprits that are known to be pro-inflammatory agents. It is the elimination of pro-inflammatory mediators and the incorporation of anti-inflammatory agents that seem to balance the system to decrease the risk of disease and obesity.

An anti-inflammatory diet leads to better healing, recovery of stress, better sleep, weight control and yes, reversal of many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, lupus, and did I mention the control of pain? Who knew?

Diet Against Inflammation

The anti inflammatory diet includes fruits and vegetables that are full of strong antioxidants that fight disease and cool down the “internal burning” in this chronic inflammatory scenario. You see, the inflammatory process releases something called free radicals that damage the “brain” of the cell or the DNA of the cell that leads to disease.

Foods high in antioxidants scavenge those free radicals to prevent damage to the “brain” of the cells thereby decreasing the risk of subsequent health challenges. The foods that are high in antioxidants are, you guessed it-fruits and vegetables.

Animal products simply do not contain any antioxidants and are quite the opposite. All animal products are pro-inflammatory. That means they are the culprit of this hellacious subsequent down-spiraling of health.

Buy Organic. Use Vegetable Wash.

The problem with our wonderful fruits and vegetables is that they are heavily sprayed with pesticides that these precious gems can become a toxic overload and resultant detriment to our health. That means, eating fruits and vegetables almost, I said almost, defeats the purpose of eating them. Almost. However, there are still benefits to these foods though somewhat tainted they may be.

Obviously, it is best to buy organic when possible, but if it is not feasible, there are other options. It is for this reason that I use a good fruit and vegetable wash to try to rid them of as many of the pesticides and dirt as possible. Certainly, this is not without flaw, but it is quite helpful.

Is there is a way to determine if there is some produce that is ok to buy conventionally? Guess what? There is!

The Environmental Work Group is an amazing organization concerned about the environment and our health. Every year, since 2004, the EWG ranks pesticide contamination of the 47 most popular fruits and vegetables based on the results of more than 38,000 samples of produce tested by the US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration (USDA and FDA).

Interestingly, these foods are tested after washing, and sometimes after peeling the item to detect pesticide residues. Unfortunately, pesticide residues are still present on many of our antioxidant allies. EWG is friend, not foe because once the information is evaluated, the organization develops a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce and publishes it annually. Use this list to determine which foods are important to purchase organically and which are safe to use conventionally.

The “Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15” is available at EWG.org.  Here is the EWG 2018 list. This list includes the best and the worst.

Happy eating!

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